New food kitchen to debut next semester

Alison Adams

Next semester, Kent State will be the first university in Ohio to participate in the Campus Kitchens Project, a program that encourages schools to recycle food from their campuses and local businesses and turn it into suitable meals for those in need within their community.

Students who participated in the alternative spring break trip to Washington D.C. last spring learned about the Campus Kitchens Project directly from its creator, Robert Egger.

Robert Egger is the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and is the 2004 James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year.” He has also been named Oprah’s 2006 “Real Sexiest Man Alive.”

Egger is also the founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, the first “community kitchen” in the U.S., which provides men and women with the tools needed to learn marketable culinary skills while converting donated food into balanced meals.

“Our trip included a tour of the kitchen and (Egger) happened to be in the kitchen that day,” said Ann Gosky, senior special assistant of the Office of Community Service, Learning and Volunteerism Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “He spoke to us about the work he has done with the Campus Kitchens Project and what he hopes to do in terms of responding to the needs of the hungry and those living in poverty.”

Gosky said students also heard stories from the men and women that Egger trains in his culinary school, and they decided they were interested in getting involved and creating a Campus Kitchen at Kent.

“I think students really initiated the effort and the interest in Robert Egger and the Campus Kitchens Project, and I think it only took 30 minutes of him talking to really set them on fire and be excited about making a difference,” Gosky said. “They brought that energy and enthusiasm away from that D.C. trip and have spent a great deal of time putting a proposal together for a Campus Kitchen, and I think they should be commended because he challenged them and they took up the challenge.”

So far Kent’s Campus Kitchens Project has recovered over 700 pounds of food, and on the last day of the fall semester, they plan on collecting more.

The Campus Kitchens Project will share on-campus space with Beall and McDowell Halls. Students will collect food from eateries on campus as well as local businesses that are willing to participate and prepare the food in the kitchen before distributing it to Kent Social Services.

“We are trying to help them out by taking a load off their shoulders through student initiative,” said Sneha Jose, head of volunteer and campus outreach for Kent’s Campus Kitchens Project.

Jose said members of the group are looking to have one on one interaction with those whom they are helping.

Kent’s Campus Kitchens Project has received $15,000 from the national Campus Kitchens Project, which will be distributed over three years. It goes toward helping to open the kitchen and begin its operations.

Jose said right now their goal is to start the kitchen and get people involved. She said students have already expressed interest in practicing their culinary skills because they want to cook for more people other than themselves and friends.

The group is hoping to serve their first meal in mid-February, and until then, they are working on getting set up and preparing for next semester when a representative of the Campus Kitchens Project comes to assist with training and answering questions.

“I think we have an advantage being the first in Ohio,” Jose said.

Contact Alison Adams at [email protected].